When Quad City Storm President Gwen Tombergs accepted her job, she only had 130 days to find a coach, players and pick a team name before the start of the team’s inaugural season.
Somehow she pulled it all together for opening night.
“To have 6,500 people come to the game on opening night was just icing on the cake,” she said.
The Eldridge native brought a new approach to the Quad Cities hockey by bringing together her experience in minor and major league sports, as well as the Quad Cities Chamber of Commerce.
“We just don’t have enough true hockey fans here — the ones that you open the door and they’re going to come no matter what,” she said. “So we had to appeal to the non-hockey lover.”
That means a focus on entertainment and giving back. Now when a non-profit brings a group to a game, they get a cut of the ticket sales.
Tombergs and the office staff put in 80 hour weeks during the season. Tombergs said she drives hard, but the results speak for themselves.
“One thing we all agreed on in the very beginning was to be great and so we have implemented the good to great strategy,” Tombergs said. “After every weekend game we sit down and say, ‘What do we need to work on? What did we do good and what did we do great.'”
She’s doing it all as the first female president in the Southern Professional Hockey League.
“It’s kind of a big deal,” Tombergs said. “I had a lot of parents come up to me and say, ‘You know, my daughter just loves that you’re a woman president, you know, leading a hockey team.’ … You realize that it’s something you have to take seriously because there are no glass ceilings anymore.”
Tombergs is also the first female hockey president in the Quad Cities.
“I don’t care if it’s minor league sports or a major corporation,” Tombergs said. “[It’s] a woman making her mark and being able to show that a woman can do anything and that’s what I think we can do.”
And this woman is taking Quad Cities hockey from good to great.
“I say come once,” she said. “Just give me one game a year and we’ll keep hockey here.”